Start the New Year on the right foot and raise a toast to sustainability!
There are New Year’s Eves for all tastes. It doesn’t matter if you are partying till the wee hours, spending a quiet night in, watching iconic shows on the telly, banging pots and pans from the window, or even watching a film on the sofa and dozing off right after the twelve strokes. The beginning of a new year can be a time of renewed energy and hope.
Even with a more homely party, most of us inevitably adhere to one tradition or another that is not always best for the planet – such as wearing a new (and not needed) piece of clothing or cooking more than we actually need (which can lead to food waste).
Is an unforgettable party not compatible with sustainable choices? Follow our tips, and you will see that it is possible to celebrate the New Year with different choices and new habits, without compromising the spirit of celebration, tradition, or fun.
Ten sustainable ways to celebrate the New Year
If you’re having a New Year’s Eve party at home with your friends or family, we have some tips that will make the night memorable – and with a positive impact on the planet.
Make sustainable and reusable decoration.
If you buy decorations, prefer recyclable materials that don’t mention the year – “Happy New Year” instead of “Happy 2024”, so you can use them again for years to come.
Try making your own confetti and streamers! All you need is a pair of scissors and wrapping paper either left over from Christmas or the one that has been tossed aside after the presents have been unwrapped. Cut the paper into small pieces and strips and use the colourful ribbons of the gifts to make garlands to hang on walls and ceiling. Fight the urge to use confetti or streamers outdoors; they will eventually become litter and will not be recycled.
Say “no” to disposable cutlery and utensils.
One of the most annoying parts of any house party is cleaning up the next day (or, for the bravest, the day of). The easiest way would be to use disposable cups, plates, and cutlery. But the easiest path isn’t always the best – think of the amount of non-recyclable waste that single-use plastics generate. To avoid waste, use reusable tableware and cutlery (the ones you use every day, for example). If you have a lot of guests, use biodegradable disposable cutlery and utensils – such as organic bamboo, sugar cane, cornstarch or certified materials – which you can then compost at home.
Invites? Placeholders? Souvenirs? Use seed paper.
We like to show you different options, so don’t be surprised by this tip: ever heard about seed paper? It is biodegradable and can be planted to become a new plant. If you like to make personalized invites, placeholders with the guest’s name or a special message, or even offer a small gift or party favour to those who share New Year’s Eve with you, choose seed paper – a good deed that will surprise everyone.
Cook a meal with local produce.
During New Year’s Eve supper, food may be plentiful, varied and locally sourced. However, it isn’t too common to have a beautiful platter of vegetables on New Year’s Eve. Why can’t vegetables be associated with a feast? Reverse this trend: serve a more balanced and sustainable meal, one where the Mediterranean diet does the honours. You can also vary the menu by serving a vegetarian or vegan meal. Remember to use fresh, local produce.
Plan the menu and avoid food waste.
There is a Portuguese saying that goes something like “it is better to have too much than not enough”. This saying is especially true when it comes to food and guests. But if the leftovers end up in the bin, then it is not better at all – for your wallet or for the environment. To avoid excesses that lead to food waste, plan ahead for the number of guests or, better yet, have a potluck-style supper: each person can be responsible for bringing something to dinner, whether it is fruit, a main course, a dessert… This option requires everyone to know what each one is bringing, so there are no repeat dishes.
Ask everyone to bring their own take-away box.
Is good planning not enough to wipe out leftovers? Ask each of the guests to bring a container box so they can take some leftovers home. If you don’t stay home all night after supper, don’t forget to store leftover food in the fridge or freeze it to prevent spoiling.
Shine with clothes and styles from other years.
Avoid the temptation to buy clothes to debut at the New Year’s Eve party and reuse one of the party models you have stashed in your closet. If you do buy clothes, shop consciously: buy second-hand and vintage clothes and accessories, or brands that use quality, natural and organic materials, with sustainable production processes.
Write a list of New Year’s resolutions.
The end of another year brings greater reflection on the achievements and plans that never happened. Take this opportunity to make a list of all the things you’re proud to have accomplished and another with your resolutions for the year ahead. Include accomplishments you’d like to achieve on a personal and professional level. Get inspired by these sustainable New Year’s resolutions and challenge your guests to do the same!
Choose your raisins.
Portuguese tradition dictates that the twelve strokes of midnight must be accompanied by twelve raisins – one for each of the New Year’s wishes. If you’re one of the many who don’t like raisins but make the sacrifice just for the day, why not replace them? Instead of raisins, choose a nut or dried fruit of your choice.
Pop the champagne open, and don’t waste a drop!
When the countdown stops, the characteristic “pop” of the champagne bottle cork is a must. But don’t give in to temptation (can we call it almost an instinct?) of giving your friends a “champagne bath” – something relatively common when it’s time for celebration and there’s a bottle of champagne in your hand. Instead, make sure that the champagne goes exactly where it should – into the glasses, for the long-awaited toast, without waste.
Happy new year!
Here it is: a new year with 365 days of opportunities (366 days in 2024, leap year). Remember: with small steps, it is possible to build a better present and future. Be The Story will continue on this side to give you good stories – the endings are up to each one of us. Happy new year.